View Full Version : History of the Heavyweights part 4 (James J. Jeffries)


kerrminator
12-09-2005, 04:57 AM
James J. Jeffries


Had it not been for an ill advised return to the ring when he was 35, James J. Jeffries would have joined an elite group of boxers who retired from the ring undefeated. Public pressure, born of racial prejudice, brought Jeffries out of retirement to face Jack Johnson in 1910. It was a decision which brought him a big payday, but cost him a place in the record books and diminished his reputation.
A decade earlier it was a very different story. Jeffries was an unsophisticated but destructive champion. He had a seemingly limitless capacity to absorb punishment, often using his body as a means of wearing down his opponents. And when they had punched themselves out and began to tire, Jeffries, who weighed in at 220lb, didn't need to catch his adversaries too many times to put them away for good.
Jeffries was born in Ohio, on 15 April 1875, his family moving to Los Angeles when he was a child. Powerfully built and 6 ft 2 in tall, Jeffries sought to supplement his meagre income by stepping into the ring. He became known as the Fighting Boilermaker, after one of his early jobs.


CORBETT'S SPARRING PARTNER


Jeffries sparred with Corbet when the latter was heavyweight champion. He took all the punishment that the mercurial Corbett doled out to him, then set about forging a proffesional career in his own right. By the time Fitzsimmons became champion, in March 1897, Jeffries was confident that he could lift the greatest prize. He had to wait two years for his opportunity, Fitzsimmons preferring the limelight of vaudeville to the risk of a title defence. When the champion could no longer resist the pressure to climb back into the ring, he chose Jeffries, firmly believing that the Fighting Boilermaker would be a slow, lumbering target for his heavy punches.


IMPERVIOUS


The fight took place at Coney Island, on 9th June 1899. Fitzsimmons hit the 24-year old challenger hard and often, but to little effect. Most worrying of all for the champion, Jeffries appeared impervious to the crushing solar plexus punch that had had Corbett, Sharkey and others doubled up in agony. Jeffries kept on coming forward. Fitzsimmons's numerous scoring punches hadput him comfortably ahead on points, but he didn't look like finishing Jeffries off. The challenger continued to bear down on his man, looking for the opening he needed. It came in the 11th round, Jeffries nailing the champion with a left hook followed by a right uppercut.
After outpointing Tom Sharkey, Jeffries' second defence of the title saw him matched against former champion, Gentleman Jim Corbett. Corbett had been frustrated by Fitzsimmons refusal to fight him, however his interest was now renewed, especially since the new champion was his old sparring partner, whom he had always handled with consummate ease.
The two met at Coney Island on 11th May 1900, in a 25 round contest. The 35-year old Corbett gave the younger, heavier man a boxing lesson that day. Jeffries had been coached to abandon his upright, open stance in favour of a crouching position. It hardly made any difference. Corbett punched and connected and Jeffries was left chasing shadows. The champion had not prepared well for the fight, and it looked like costing him dearly. But in the 23rd round Jeffries had his one chance, and took it. He caught Corbett on the ropes, feinted with his right, then crashed home with a big left hook.


MOMENTARY LAPSE


The next thing Corbett knew someone was bringing him round with smelling salts. His momentary lapse had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Jeffries had retained his title, but Corbett was feted for the boxing masterclass he gave that day.
Next up for Jeffries was a rematch against Bob Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons had scored some notable victories against some of the top contenders of the day, and they rightly earned him another crack at the title in 1902. Once again, Fitzsimmons threw everything at the title holder and did plenty of damage. But Jeffries shrugged off the extensive cuts and bruises, not to mention a broken nose and cheekbone. Jeffries still retained his title with an eighth round knockout.
After five more comfortable defences, the 30- year old Jeffries announced that he was giving up the ring and returning to his farm in California. Although it was true that there were no other white contenders left for him to take on, there were certainly some top quality black heavyweights around. But Jeffries, like Sullivan before him, refused to step into the ring with black opponents. The man who suffered most from this crass attitude was Jack Johnson, who was deemed to be the black heavyweight champion of the world.


JEFFRIES RETIRES UNDEFEATED


Jeffries did indeed retire with his hundred per cent record intact, nominating two white boxers , Jack Root and Marvin Hart, to battle it out for the vacant title. Jeffries officiated at the contest, and it seemed that boxing fans had seen the last of him with the gloves on. But five years later, with the first black heavyweight ensconced on the throne, Jeffries was lured back into the ring. A huge purse was one reason, the other was the deafening clamour from white America to put Jack Johnson in his place.

LondonRingRules
12-09-2005, 07:05 AM
===========After five more comfortable defences, the 30- year old Jeffries announced that he was giving up the ring and returning to his farm in California. Although it was true that there were no other white contenders left for him to take on, there were certainly some top quality black heavyweights around.===============

** Actually, Jack Johnson and Marvin Hart were the only fighters left that anyone wanted to see Jeffries fight, and the public was not beating down the doors for those fights. But there were many decent black and white contender types competing in the era who never got title shots, but nobody thinks they could've beat Jeffries. So the article repeats some myth without actually looking at long forgotten heavies that the average fan doesn't know about.

Dempsey 1919
12-09-2005, 05:39 PM
he was a racist coward who was scared to fight johnson when jeffries was champion, and when johnson was champion.

Da Iceman
12-09-2005, 06:21 PM
he was a racist coward who was scared to fight johnson when jeffries was champion, and when johnson was champion.
preach!!!!!

j
12-10-2005, 12:43 AM
he may have been racist, but he was no coward. back in those days, it was considered sort of a downgrading to fight a black person in professional boxing by the general white population. he subscribed to it, as did many of our grandfathers or great grandfathers. thankfully, jack johnson started the change on a national level, however slight it may have seemed at the time.

Da Iceman
12-10-2005, 12:46 AM
my great grandfather and grandfather was black, i dont know what the hell you talkin about

j
12-10-2005, 12:58 AM
well then, your grandparents wouldn't count. probably most of the white people whose ancestry had been in america since the early 1900's or before, it does apply to a greater or lesser degree.

Dempsey1238
12-10-2005, 01:47 AM
I would not relly called Jim Jeffies a racist,

No one relly clamor for a Johnson Jeffies fight, and Jeffies defeated Griffin, a BLACK MAN, when he was champ.
Of couse he ko the best blacks of the day like Peter Jackson on the way to the title,

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v737/greek1237/jeffboys.gif

LondonRingRules
12-10-2005, 11:29 AM
==========thankfully, jack johnson started the change on a national level, however slight it may have seemed at the time.==============

**I'm trying to understand that change, since the history of boxing was filled with black greats and champions before Johnson ever won a title. Opportunities dried out for black boxers for 2 decades after Johnson came to the public stage.

Joe Louis is the guy who opened up the doors of modern integretion of society and opportunities for black fighters and provided the inspiration for great civil right activists like MLKing and Nelson Mandela.

kerrminator
12-10-2005, 03:12 PM
Maradona- Pretty Good
Pele- Better

George Best



quality :)

j
12-11-2005, 08:40 PM
londonringrules,

opportunities dried out for a whole 2 decades after johnson? wasn't it only 15 years before louis acquired the heavyweight strap? and don't forget johnson himself held the strap for more than 5 years.


dempsey1238,

you wouldn't call jeffries a racist. should i pull out some quotes of his referring to black people?

LondonRingRules
12-12-2005, 05:41 PM
londonringrules,

opportunities dried out for a whole 2 decades after johnson? wasn't it only 15 years before louis acquired the heavyweight strap? and don't forget johnson himself held the strap for more than 5 years.


dempsey1238,

you wouldn't call jeffries a racist. should i pull out some quotes of his referring to black people?
Johnson lost the title in 1915. Louis gained the title in 1937. I was mistaken, as that was 3 decades, not 2 or 22 total yrs. More importantly, all championship opportunities for black fighters dried out for the lower weight classes during the post Johnson era, classes which had a rich history of black contention.

Johnson could have cared less how many blacks were lynched after his antics. He was strictly a mercenary and showman. As long as he could make the headlines and make good money fighting white journeymen heavies and middleweights, he was in high clover.

Ever hear how Richard Pryor or Public Enemy refer to black folk? Don't fall victim to fad historical/hysterical revisionism. Jeffries was quite advanced for his day and gave plenty of good/great black fighters a crack at him.

j
12-12-2005, 11:18 PM
johnson could care less about his fellow race? liketo see some quotes or proof on that one.

johnson is was actually more sophisticated than most people in his time it seemed. he didn't give a **** about racial barriers or difference in races. he was known to treat all people equally.

remember he opened cafe de champion, which was open to all people of all races.

please, provide me with some quotes or some references of jack johnson as neglecting his race. i know ali and frazier would disagree with you, because they were both inspired a great deal by jack.

could it be that you see his racial equality views as him removing himself from the troubles many black people had to deal with? he did go through that **** too. a good read, pick up his autobiography.